Why does Steam download so slow? How to speed it up

You can download free games on Steam or those you have purchased and play them on your PC. However, many video games today are increasing in size. That means it can take longer to download your game.

For example, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is 231GB. If you do not have fast internet, it will take hours or even days to get the file. The only alternative is to play it from the Steam client. But why does Steam download so slowly?

Sometimes the download may be slow even if you are using the fastest Steam download server.

Steam can be slow because your network connectivity is wanting or you are not using the fastest download server or the server. You could also be downloading the video game from a region that is experiencing network issues or you haven’t set the connection rate well.

Can I increase my Steam download speed?

You can boost or fix a slow download on Steam by doing the following:

1. Connect to the nearest content server

Steam uses content servers located globally. Whenever you connect, the platform will select the best server based on your location.

But if your Steam downloads are slower than usual, check to ensure you are using the nearest or the fastest Steam download server. Here is how:

  • Start the Steam application.
  • Go to Settings.
  • Click on the Downloads tab.
  • Under the Download region, choose a location that you are in or is closest to you.

Alternatively, try using different regions near you to determine whether you will get a better connection. Understand that the best Steam download region is your current location.

However, factors like the internet connection between you and the server location or traffic volume to the server may counterbalance in favor of a server further away.

2. Disable some third-party applications

ESET NOD32
Image: eset.com

Some third-party applications like firewalls or antivirus programs tend to slow down Steam downloads. If you are using an application like ESET NOD32 or any internet or packet filtering software, it may have the same effect and lead to connection issues.

If you are using NOD32, here is a workaround that can help you boost Steam download speed:

  • Go to NOD32 Settings.
  • Locate Web Access Protection. You will find the option under Antivirus and Antispyware.
  • Find Web Browsers.
  • Locate Steam.exe.
  • Click the box until you see a red X.
  • Click OK and close the settings.

Other programs you should consider closing to speed up Steam downloads include:

  • A VPN
  • Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Clients & File Sharing Software.
  • FTP and Web Server Applications.
  • IP Filtering or Blocking Programs.
  • Download Accelerator and Download Manager Programs.

The best way of resolving issues related to the above programs is by exiting or disabling them. You will then have to quit and restart Steam.

Depending on the application, a complete system reboot may be necessary after shutting down or disabling the application.

3. Check your network connectivity

If you experience issues with Steam download slow and stopping, check your network connection. You can diagnose network connectivity issues on Steam using the following methods:

  • Test your router by using an Ethernet connection instead of Wi-Fi. We recommend this high-speed cat8 cable if you don’t have one.
  • Run an internet speed test to identify problems related to your local link quality.
  • Check whether Steam is experiencing a system-wide issue.
  • Disable any background application that is preventing Steam from downloading games fast.

You may also notice that your Steam download starts fast then slows down during specific times of the day.

In this case, your ISP may be blocking or shaping your connection. The best solution is to contact them to boost your internet speed.

4. Check your connection rate

By default, Steam will download files as fast as possible even if you have slow internet. But you have to set your Steam connection rate appropriately to improve download speeds.

Follow the steps below:

  • Click on Steam.
  • Go to Settings in the dropdown menu.
  • Click on the Downloads tab.
  • Click on the dropdown box labeled “Limit bandwidth to.”
  • Select from a range of values between 128Kbps and 200Mbps.

You can set the speed to a higher value to boost your Steam downloads. Alternatively, you can lock the values to No Limit to increase the download speed.

5. Clear Steam downloads cache

The Steam downloads cache may affect the speed with which you get files from the platform. Clear the files as follows:

  • Open Steam.
  • Go to the Downloads tab.
  • Click on Clear Download Cache.

After you clear the cache, try downloading the file to see whether the speed improves.

6. Run a speed test

speedtest download speeds

Running a speed test will help you to determine your actual download or upload speed. Generally, the speed displayed in your System Tray is the same as that of your Local Area Network.

If Steam download speed is slower than speed test, then the issue is with the servers and not your LAN or ISP. But if it is the opposite, contact your ISP for further assistance.

You can use a service like DSLReports to run a speed test.

7. Quit all applications using the internet

Your computer has many applications that are using the internet. In most cases, you are experiencing slow Steam downloads because of factors outside of the gaming platform.

Some applications will take valuable bandwidth away from Steam and cause your downloads to take longer.

Quit applications like Windows Update, streaming platforms, and Torrent clients. The option will allow you to allocate internet resources to Steam instead of the other applications.

You can also do the following:

  • Open the Task Manager on your Windows PC or Launch the Activity Monitor on your Mac.
  • Click on the Network category.
  • You will see a list of programs consuming your network connection.
  • Right-click on the application.
  • Click on End Task.

Ending unnecessary programs will help to boost your network connection.

Is your download still slow on Steam?

If Steam is downloading slowly, check your internet connection speeds and disable third-party applications that are interfering with your network connectivity.

You should also switch to the nearest download server and close down apps that are using significant bandwidth.

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